I’m sitting bolt upright, heart pounding, teeth chattering, the sweat patch on the back of my T-shirt rapidly cooling in chill of the room. I wrap my arms tightly around me as I collapse back onto the pillows, eyes clenched shut, muttering whatever incantation has come into my head this time that might protect me, save me, wake me up.
As my breathing returns to normal, I’m conscious that my cats have bolted out of the room, and that it’s still dark; I pick up my phone and flinch at the flash as the screen lights up the room; 4.10 am.
There’s a gap in the curtains and I can see that it’s still snowing softly, shimmering eerily against the backdrop of the foggy moonless night.
I sigh, and rub my eyes.
After 4 months of absence, the Fear is back.
Actually that’s a lie, The Fear is never really far from my side, and is a key factor in stopping me from doing the things I want and need to do in order to have a happy balanced life. But it comes into it’s own when it infiltrates my sleep, and creeps into my dreams where I am defenseless and have no access to logic, reason or reassurance.
Sometimes there are dreams that precede it. I don’t always remember them, but in some of them I’m being chased, and it doesn’t matter how many times I turn around and confront it, question it, scream at it or fight with it (and some of the battles are very gory), it just disappears and the moment I turn my back it’s there again, hot on my heels and it keeps on coming. I don’t know what it wants.
Over the years I have ground my teeth to powder, and at times I even sleepwalk, but it always ends with me waking up absolutely terrified of something that I cannot name or cannot escape.
Sometimes when I wake up I think someone’s in the flat, someone hurting my cats, and/or burgling my home.
Some years ago, one poor ex flat mate of mine heard me yelling and mumbling at some ungodly hour, so she tiptoed to my room to investigate. As she approached the door, I apparently SPRUNG out of the room and landed onto the hall carpet in some kind of martial arts pose like a slightly younger female Chuck Norris, eyes glaring in the dark. She understandably nearly shat herself, but apparently I didn’t even look at her, but scanned the corridor looking for interlopers, then satisfied there was none, went back to bed. I remembered nothing the next day when she regaled me with this story, and we giggled about it for weeks, but I have no doubt that The Fear was involved that night. Not that I told her that of course.
I’m not that mad.
I open the drawer of my bedside table and fumble for a pen, then try to scrawl down some notes.
This is about the third time I have tried to capture what I’m feeling after these episodes, and, in no particular order, this is what I have so far.
I did something, I forgot something, I didn’t do it, now it’s out, and I’ll be sorry, they’ll know, I don’t know, I can’t stop it, can’t solve out, can’t negotiate my way out of this one. It can’t be fixed, it’s going to get out, everyone will know, no one knows, it’s bad, everyone knows, no one knows, I can’t get out, I can’t get in, it’s dark, and they’re there, no ones there, no, it’s over, I don’t know, they can’t hear me, it can’t help me, I have no where to go, it’s cold, I can’t cope, they know, it’s coming. I failed. I don’t know what it wants. I don’t know what to do. There’s nothing I can do. It’s done. It’s over.
Whatever it is that frightens me so, I do have a good idea of what might have started these night terrors off again. Cursing Dr B, I swig down some stale water, set my alarm for 8 am, and then bury myself back under the duvet.
Back to the surgery, back to the drawing board.